New Zealand has granted its approval for Qantas Airways and Emirates to share services on trans-Tasman routes.
"Qantas and Emirates will be able to co-operate on passenger and cargo transport operations, and other related services, for an initial period of five years," says transport minister Gerry Brownlee. "Exporters and travellers will benefit from strengthened connections with Emirates' international network, including 30 points in Europe, as well as the growing Middle East region and Africa."
The approval comes six weeks after the tie-up was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Media reports from New Zealand indicate that the country's tourism and exports sector generally supports the tie-up, although Air New Zealand was opposed to elements of the deal. "Trans-Tasman competition will be maintained through existing carriers on the route and the threat of entry by new carriers," adds Brownlee. "Conditions imposed by the [ACCC] require the airlines to maintain at least their pre-alliance aggregate capacity, subject to a review to consider whether increases in the minimum required capacity are warranted."
"Competition between strong home carriers is important for the Australasian aviation market, and this alliance will ensure competition is retained, while opening the door to additional benefits for New Zealand."
Similar to the ACCC, Wellington feels that the threat of a revocation after five years will help ensure that the two carriers "operate in a competitive manner".
It cites a number of benefits for its approval of the deal, including access to Emirates' European, Middle Eastern and African destinations for New Zealand travellers and exporters. It also feels that the alliance will boost tourism.
The alliance, announced in September last year, saw Qantas move its hub for European services to Dubai from 31 March and codeshare on a number of Emirates' services between Australia, Europe and Asia. Similarly, Emirates will codeshare on a number of Qantas's domestic services.